If you followed the rushes of Mastizaade and its publicity leading up to the release you’ve probably been told what to make of its main star Sunny Leone. Not only that, you’ve also been told what to think of Sunny Leone. Apparently that’s how mainstream media works these days. That’s how probing the media has been in trying to shape the perception around Leone armed with euphemisms like her “history” or her “past” or even her “profession”. The most famous in that series has been TV anchor Bhupendra Chaubey’s interview of her for a not so subtly named program, The Hot Seat. It is difficult to watch that repressed Indian male psyche chuckling within but pretending to ask a clever question on the outside in its full glory. It would be less embarrassing to be caught by a parent while watching pornography. I am saying all this because Mastizaade plays out like a film in Chaubey’s head. Or that Milap Zaveri and Chaubey are probably brothers who were separated at birth. And we do have plenty of their ilk. Just like the interview, Mastizaade pretends to be full of clever gags. Just like that interview, Mastizaade is afraid to bare itself for what it really is. Just like that interview, Mastizaade only beats around the bush, never venturing into the action beyond. Mastizaade and the interview both have only one thing to do with Sunny Leone.
The funniest bit of Mastizaade is sadly not part of the film. It comes before the credits roll when there is a mention of a brand as the film’s “inner wear partner”. Now that is something I don’t remember ever seeing before. A sex comedy by definition has the pursuit of sex as an important plot point tied into it. But in Mastizaade, Sunny (Tusshar Kapoor) and Aditya (Vir Das) have it easy. All they need to do is sign up for sex addiction support group or alcohol anonymous and their job is done. There is a painfully verbalized joke about hand massage, one about house-full and blouse-full, another about a possible solar eclipse over a well endowed character. Or simply the names – Leone’s surname is Le-Le, Asrani is aShit, Das’s surname is Chothia. There is even a Titli who insists you must call her…well you get the idea.
The problem with Mastizaade is that there is really nothing to keep us interested. At least there is a shock value in a film that is going from bad to worse. But no, here Zaveri has found a low and plateaued right at it. You have the same set pieces happening in different locations scene after scene after scene. Everybody has just changed clothes or dropped them appropriately. The abominable gay angle, the jokes on a character with disability or the one with all the balls. Oh the balls to make such a horribly self unaware film! Zaveri confirms that whatever spurts he might have had, growth wasn’t one of them.
(An edited version of this was published in The New Indian Express)